Mayhem Maniac Machine
posted on 6/2012 By:
For better or worse, Mayhem Maniac Machine sounds almost exactly like its cover art, which features a human skeleton fused with a vaguely steampunk-looking killing machine: syringes and bolted joints, a finger gear-locked on the trigger. German cog-spinners Deadborn play an almost technical version of death metal that’s not terribly far removed from, say, early Decapitated, but while in theory the band’s judicious deployment of technical flourishes lands them squarely in a death metal sweet spot, in execution Mayhem Maniac Machine is taut, impressive, but ultimately rather bland.
There’s not much soul here, apart from the “…of a new machine” type, and that’s fine. Deadborn’s clinical take on death metal still exudes a certain ferocity beneath its mechanical sheen. One imagines guitar frets methodically prodded with coolly efficient wrench-fingers, and drums caressed in a symphony of clanging pistons. Slavek Foltyn (who, along with vocalist Mario Petrovic, spent a brief stint with tech-mongers Necrophagist between that band’s two albums) is the very image of a mechanical man, his drumming controlled, precise, never effusive.
While the current state of technical death metal seems primarily mired in endless sweeps, multitracked shredding, pinches, squeals, micro pig blasts and whatever else the caffeine-addled young guns are up to these days, Deadborn relies on technical flourishes for just that: flourishes. These songs are still crafted around identifiable riffs and relatively classic song structures, with the odd sweep, blast, and whirling solo run used to create transitions and progress a song. Even though the album is a nicely tidy 35 minutes, many of the songs are needlessly bloated; prime offenders “Profanatic Reanimation” and “Insane Motor Cortex” would certainly benefit from a 30- or 60-second shave. Still, there are some fun exercises here, too, from the thrashy riffing of opener “Premises of Cryonics” and the jackhammering conclusion of “Second Order Cybernetics” to the swerving groove of highlight “Slaves of Megatron.”
Still, Deadborn’s extremely canny decision to walk a careful line between tech and non-tech death (what ridiculous acrobatics our music forces on our poor language!) ends up being its principal undoing. By reining in the technical aspects, there are few moments where the listener is truly blown away by the musicians’ collective instrumental prowess or inventiveness, but because the band still peppers most songs with mini-blitzes and quick transitions, none of the songs are built around riffs individually strong enough to really stick to the ribs. While I don’t see myself returning to it very often, Mayhem Maniac Machine is still a nice quick fix of well-produced, extremely professional death metal muscling. Sometimes all you need is to get in, crack some skulls, and get out. This machine is only too happy to oblige.
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